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No school place (SW London)

(13 Posts)
Emmaroos Thu 09-May-13 16:11:09

My son did not get a place in either of the two state primaries we applied for. We did not see this coming. While we can appeal one of the decisions (it will be messy as it will come down to interpretations of Church law), for our first choice (which we would have comfortably qualified for every other year since it was opened) we have been defeated by a combination of 50% sibling intake and savvy renters who rent short term to qualify for a place in the school. The council say they are in the process of changing the admissions criteria to combat this but it will take 18 months and it will be too late for us.
My son will only turn 4 in August and therefore does not legally have to start school until next year. We have registered for the waiting lists for most of the private schools in the area and we are going to wait it out until a place opens up in a school we are comfortable with rather than sending him as one of the youngest in the year to a rough school where a general lack of respect and manners seem to be the norm. I am gearing up for a bit of home-schooling and although we have been really happy with the nursery he goes to, we think we want to move him on at the same time as his friends. Can anyone recommend any nurseries/pre-schools/Montessoris in the Fulham/Putney/Chelsea/Wandsworth area which are quite structured and school-like and suitable for a 4-5 year child who may end up starting school in year 1?

NynaevesSister Thu 09-May-13 17:38:50

Do you think they may have made a mistake with the church one?

Those with more experience than me will be along with great advice soon.

In the meantime accept the place you have been given even if you won't take it up no matter what.

Next defer that place. I believe you can do this till Easter of next year.

Then make sure you are on the waiting lists for the two schools you want. Find out what position you are, and what the mobility is like at the school. This will give you an idea of how long you may have to wait.

Then look at other schools to see if there are any with places that are more acceptable than the one you have and switch just as a back up.

sanam2010 Thu 09-May-13 19:01:49

In those areas that you list I would expect reception places are still available so you shouldn't need nurseries. Have you tried Eridge House or Sinclair House? Z

FuckThisShit Thu 09-May-13 19:11:10

Emmaroos I've PM'd you.

PanelChair Thu 09-May-13 19:27:21

Given your location, I am assuming that the schools for which you applied have Published Admission Numbers of multiples of 30. If so, the Infant Class Size rules apply and you will only win an appeal if you can demonstrate some sort of mistake (admissions criteria not compliant with the admissions code or wrongly applied, or a decision so unreasonable as to be perverse). It is therefore highly unlikely that any appeal would turn on interpretation of church law, unless it touched on that question of unreasonableness/perversity. The panel will be looking to see whether the admissions criteria were properly applied and will take a common sense, everyman view of that.

Don't pin all your hopes on getting a place in one of these two schools for Year 1. Unless they're the sort of school with a lot of mobility, they may well still be full at the start of Year 1. Are there no other schools that you would be willing to accept and whose waiting lists you could join?

Emmaroos Fri 10-May-13 01:24:58

We don't qualify for the third good state school in our area on the grounds of religion. The appeal to the catholic school would be on the basis that the admissions committee are defining 'a child being catholic' in a different way than the Catholic Church itself does under Church law, and that the narrower interpretation is not specified by the published admissions criteria, so it would be admissions code wrongly applied. None of the other state schools where we can get a place are schools I would consider for a young 4 year old. However hard the school works at it they can only do so much to combat the level of respect and manners the children who make up the intake arrive with.
He's now been added to the waiting list for most of the private schools (although some of them also leave a bit to be desired on the respect and manners front), but most (including those mentioned)are saying that he's so far down the list we shouldn't hold out much hope for a place in September.
Realistically something should open up in one of the 8 or so schools for the coming year, but if we don't get a place for september we need to have a plan b ready to go!

tiggytape Fri 10-May-13 07:42:45

If you have ruled out every state school except for two and many private schools as well on the grounds that they don't live up to expectations of respect and manners, is it perhaps possible that you narrowing your chances of getting any school you will be happy with?

Most schools do very well on this front - especially with the youngest children. What are you basing your judgements on? I only ask because you may be causing yourself a lot of stress and miss out on a local school needlessly if this is all based on hearsay.

The school you are appealing for can define a Catholic child in any way it wants whether that be purely on the grounds of baptism, mass attendance or a combination of the two. As long as it uses the same test of faith for each applicant, there is nothing to say that the school must use the Church's definitions at all.

If however you are saying the published admissions criteria were not followed then that is a different matter but still may not win you an appeal. If the criteria weren't followed potentially dozens of people could bring similar appeals and have an identical case. If you are relying on a major error in admissions, you may still not win at appeal - if there are lots of these appeals, the panel will not be able to let them all succeed (nobody already allocated a place can have it taken away and it won't be possible to admit very many more even with strong cases).

sanam2010 Fri 10-May-13 09:06:49

Emmaroos, which schools are you ruling out where you could get a place? Are you sure you know enough about them to rule them out? There are a lot of "good" (Ofsted) schools with good SATS results and even outstanding pastoral care in those boroughs you name that are undersubscribed for the simple reason that middle class parents put their kids into private school and there are only working class kids in the school. But they are good schools. Are you sure you aren't unnecessarily dismissing good options without checking out the schools for yourself?

pinkdelight Fri 10-May-13 10:14:05

Just wanted to second sanam and also say that this:

"a rough school where a general lack of respect and manners seem to be the norm"

is v v unlikely to be the case in reception. While of course there may be some 'bad' parenting going on, most four-year-olds starting school aren't yet in the realms of disrespect and ill manners. Definitely worth visiting and seeing the teachers and the children at work and play. You may be reassured that it's really not so different to nursery, and if a place comes up at your preferred schools, then that's a bonus.

prh47bridge Fri 10-May-13 10:28:34

Just to echo what Tiggytape says, the school can define being a Catholic any way it wants within reason. It does not have to follow Church law. However, if it has not followed its published admission criteria that is a different matter that may win an appeal but there are no guarantees. If the appeal panel agrees they will have to take that into consideration for all appeals where it is relevant even if it is not raised by the parents. Your best chance of winning an appeal on the basis of a mistake is if your child was the only one affected.

If you would like to give more detail you will get proper advice on the strength of your case. If you don't want to post information publicly feel free to PM me.

Elibean Fri 10-May-13 14:40:44

I'm in SW London (though a tad further W, by the sound of it) and know how mad the admissions system can be.

That said, I am a bit surprised that so many primaries near you have 4-5 year old cohorts that 'disrespectful and ill mannered', tbh. They are young to be labelled, and so much can change between nursery and Y1 in terms of socialisation.

My dds have had a huge mix of kids in their (good with outstanding) primary, especially dd1 before the cohort changed. I was a little nervous with my pfb, especially. But they have thrived, and not only become more able to cope with all sorts of social situations but their peers have also thrived, and developed such good manners and respect that Ofsted recently sang the praises of the children there and their wonderful behaviour. You would not have believed it when they came into nursery grin

amidaiwish Tue 14-May-13 13:34:52

I am guessing you didn't get in due to later than required baptism?
You won't win.

Emmaroos Sat 25-May-13 16:43:39

Hi all, thanks for the replies.
I hear what people are saying regarding behaviour not being an issue at reception age, but I'm afraid I don't agree. I'm unimpressed by the way couple of the children in my son's nursery speak to the staff, so the idea that it would not be an issue for children a year older baffles me. Basics like saying goodbye and thank you to the teachers when you leave, holding doors open and standing back to let other people through, sitting quietly when appropriate (even when bored) etc etc are all basics which children should have mastered long before they arrive at school. That may be old fashioned but it frustrates me that (unlinked to social class) not every parent or school sees these behaviour basics as a priority. I remember very clearly the values that were taught by my own school in my pre-prep years. Manners, work ethic and female aspiration and equality were modelled, and taught in such a fundamental way that I have carried the lessons I learned at that school while I was only 5, 6 and 7 all of my life.
I think the standard of behaviour and respect which a school tolerates permeates throughout the school and young children are like little sponges absorbing everything they are exposed to. Possibly unusually, I am not really worried about a school's academic strength in the early years as I can teach my son myself to top up what he is taught at school. Also I'm not very influenced by Ofsted reports as I have taught in schools with 'outstanding' ratings which were achieved by carefully manipulated allocation of resources, political manoeuvring and manipulation of statistics and would not necessarily be environments where I would want a child to spend his formative years.
It is important to me that my son is surrounded by people who speak correct English (that's not referring to children still learning English, but teachers and native English speaking children should be using correct standard English as the norm) and most importantly I want my son in an environment where all communication is conducted with respect and good manners and where inevitable breaches of these boundaries are challenged and sanctioned.
My issues with some of the private schools in the area are on the flip side - I don't want my son in an environment where a massive sense of entitlement is the norm and where children think it is acceptable to speak to adults in the school the way they would speak to their friends in the playground. Even if our son is getting a different message at home I think the messages that children receive at school, especially at a young age, have a huge impact.
The issue we had with the local Catholic school is that they do not specify their own school-specific 'Catholic' criteria (different to the Catholic Church) in their admissions policy or the advisory notes. Of course they may have any criteria they wish for foundation places but in our case they arbitrarily imposed a requirement which is not part of the published admission policy and would affect only a tiny number of applicants. It was clear that they would have lost at appeal, and it was looking as if they were going to revise our position on the waiting list which would probably have given us a place even before the formal appeals process. However, while all of that was going on we had calls from two of the private schools we joined the waiting lists for and were offered places. Both are lovely, and we have confirmed a place at one.
So thanks to all for your input.

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